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REORIENT is a magazine celebrating contemporary Middle Eastern arts and culture // edited by Joobin Bekhrad

Perryhan El-Ashmawi

Perryhan El-Ashmawi

Art is important. When you come to Palestine, you will see the most unique rap performances; you’ll see people from the age of five to the age of 90 dancing and clapping in the audience – male, female, Muslims, Christians, of all ages and religions. It’s important for us to create art, to raise [our] voices. We are the lucky ones who are still able to travel, to go around, to meet people. If I can get out, I need to use that and speak, to be a sort of PR for the Palestinian cause. You know, I’ve met people who [have] said to me, ‘I started learning Arabic because of DAM’. I’ve met Jews who [have] said it [has] helped them get a better insight [into the Palestinian situation] …
Read the full article here

Art is important. When you come to Palestine, you will see the most unique rap performances; you’ll see people from the age of five to the age of 90 dancing and clapping in the audience – male, female, Muslims, Christians, of all ages and religions. It’s important for us to create art, to raise [our] voices. We are the lucky ones who are still able to travel, to go around, to meet people. If I can get out, I need to use that and speak, to be a sort of PR for the Palestinian cause. You know, I’ve met people who [have] said to me, ‘I started learning Arabic because of DAM’. I’ve met Jews who [have] said it [has] helped them get a better insight [into the Palestinian situation] …

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Satchmo and the Sphinx

Satchmo and the Sphinx

Mehdi Mirbagheri

Mehdi Mirbagheri

Paul McCartney in Tehran in the 60s (via sexandfessenjoon)

Paul McCartney in Tehran in the 60s (via sexandfessenjoon)

Photographs reveal how Iran’s teenagers ‘enjoy partying, blowing their wages on plastic surgery, and rolling joints from pictures of the Ayatollah’ (http://bit.ly/W6OvZY)

Photographs reveal how Iran’s teenagers ‘enjoy partying, blowing their wages on plastic surgery, and rolling joints from pictures of the Ayatollah’ (http://bit.ly/W6OvZY)

They couldn’t have lost when they had Googoosh on their side …

They couldn’t have lost when they had Googoosh on their side …

Bling

Bling

In exploring the connection between Palestinian art and its politics, one wonders whether it is possible to ‘escape’ the language of politics. In doing so, it is important to look at the historical and cultural transformations endured by the Palestinians to date, particularly the state of exile created as a result of the Nakba (lit. ‘catastrophe’) in 1948. Every year, Palestinians commemorate the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians – more than 60% of the Palestinian population, to be more precise – from over 530 villages that were depopulated and destroyed completely. To date, the Israeli government has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced. Looking back at the Nakba, one is compelled to conclude that perhaps not a small part of the suffering of the Palestinian people is directly related to that event.
Read the full article here
Image: Mustafa Hallaj - The Battle of Al Karameh

In exploring the connection between Palestinian art and its politics, one wonders whether it is possible to ‘escape’ the language of politics. In doing so, it is important to look at the historical and cultural transformations endured by the Palestinians to date, particularly the state of exile created as a result of the Nakba (lit. ‘catastrophe’) in 1948. Every year, Palestinians commemorate the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians – more than 60% of the Palestinian population, to be more precise – from over 530 villages that were depopulated and destroyed completely. To date, the Israeli government has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced. Looking back at the Nakba, one is compelled to conclude that perhaps not a small part of the suffering of the Palestinian people is directly related to that event.

Read the full article here

Image: Mustafa Hallaj - The Battle of Al Karameh

All you need is love

All you need is love

Buraq meets Laxmi at the office

Buraq meets Laxmi at the office

There’s no escaping him – he’s everywhere. That broad, impeccably groomed moustache, haughty smirk, medallion-studded regalia, black felt cap replete with the lustrous loot of Nader and a telling tuft of peacock plumes, and … those eyes; two dark, sunken spheres possessing at once an air of languor and unbridled pride, which seemingly beckon one from every gaudy teapot and ghalyan in Iran to behold that monarch of late, that Pivot of the Universe. Come, they say; come, and I shall relate the tale of how I, Nasereddin Shah-e Qajar lived, ruled, and died, and recount the fate of fair Persia in days both olden and anew. Though his countenance today largely adorns chinaware and smoking apparatuses that struggle to evoke an idealised image of a glorious and flowery past when thick, swarthy eyebrows, bawdy ditties accompanied by the jangly sounds of the tar, andextravagant, over-the-top titles were all the rage, the rise and fall of one of Iran’s most iconic monarchs remains ever relevant today.
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There’s no escaping him – he’s everywhere. That broad, impeccably groomed moustache, haughty smirk, medallion-studded regalia, black felt cap replete with the lustrous loot of Nader and a telling tuft of peacock plumes, and … those eyes; two dark, sunken spheres possessing at once an air of languor and unbridled pride, which seemingly beckon one from every gaudy teapot and ghalyan in Iran to behold that monarch of late, that Pivot of the Universe. Come, they say; come, and I shall relate the tale of how I, Nasereddin Shah-e Qajar lived, ruled, and died, and recount the fate of fair Persia in days both olden and anew. Though his countenance today largely adorns chinaware and smoking apparatuses that struggle to evoke an idealised image of a glorious and flowery past when thick, swarthy eyebrows, bawdy ditties accompanied by the jangly sounds of the tar, andextravagant, over-the-top titles were all the rage, the rise and fall of one of Iran’s most iconic monarchs remains ever relevant today.

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For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, Iran remained a country more or less isolated from the rest of the world, with an economy in shambles, a history trying to rewrite itself, and a culture trying to redefine itself; it was difficult to buy bananas, let alone art. For years, those artists who chose not to leave the country found themselves either subdued or silenced, and the contemporary art scene accordingly all but withered away. Withered is perhaps the key word, here, though; for, just as the Persian language was revived, and Iranian art and culture at times lay dormant only to rise and flourish against the odds, the seeds planted by the pioneers of the country’s contemporary art scene once again bore fruit. During the President Mohammed Khatami era (1997–2005), social and cultural reforms were implemented, much to the benefit of artists as well as the country’s sizeable youth population, the offspring of war and revolution. Greater freedoms were granted to the press, restrictions were eased with respect to licenses for musical and cultural output, and increased social liberties were afforded to Iranian youth. During this period, still regarded as one of brief respite, the grounds were made fertile for a new generation of artists and intellectuals to—against tired narratives of sacrifice, outside aggression, and the “enemy”—find hope, and make their voices heard.
Read the full article here

For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, Iran remained a country more or less isolated from the rest of the world, with an economy in shambles, a history trying to rewrite itself, and a culture trying to redefine itself; it was difficult to buy bananas, let alone art. For years, those artists who chose not to leave the country found themselves either subdued or silenced, and the contemporary art scene accordingly all but withered away. Withered is perhaps the key word, here, though; for, just as the Persian language was revived, and Iranian art and culture at times lay dormant only to rise and flourish against the odds, the seeds planted by the pioneers of the country’s contemporary art scene once again bore fruit. During the President Mohammed Khatami era (1997–2005), social and cultural reforms were implemented, much to the benefit of artists as well as the country’s sizeable youth population, the offspring of war and revolution. Greater freedoms were granted to the press, restrictions were eased with respect to licenses for musical and cultural output, and increased social liberties were afforded to Iranian youth. During this period, still regarded as one of brief respite, the grounds were made fertile for a new generation of artists and intellectuals to—against tired narratives of sacrifice, outside aggression, and the “enemy”—find hope, and make their voices heard.

Read the full article here